I miss egg nog.

Trip Start Nov 23, 2007
Trip End Jan 23, 2008

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Flag of India  ,
Monday, December 24, 2007

my fingers are yellow. don't worry, ma, it's not jaundice (i don't think). they're a bit curry stained. for those of you who might not be as familiar with it, the indians do a lot of eating with their fingers. now, for a guy who spent much of his life with only 2 forks (when i couldn't find the 3rd one), this is understandable. but, i do have to believe that the indians do it NOT because of a lack of forks. it seems to be more of a cutting out the "middle man," sort of deal. why get a third party involved when i know exactly what i have and i know exactly where i want it to go? some people might say,"eating with your hands! how slovenly!" well, maybe if you're watching me. it's all over the place (because, folks, i'm talkin' rice and curry, we're not eating tuna melts here). but, let me first take you back to an email i sent about 7 years ago from Nicaragua, detailing my amazement at how clean and polished the Nicaraguan people could keep not only their clothes, but their shoes, in an environment that is so incredibly dry and dusty. i have found the Indian equivalent.

i try to watch people to see how they do it. but, it seems no matter how hard i try, i end up with rice up to my elbows, and the little kid across the table from me, who has been slopping along in his plate for the last half hour...his hands are basically ready for surgery. i do have to give credit where credit is do (to me, of course), because it is rude to get food on the palm of your hand, and i have to say, it's been everywhere else, but it's never been on my palm. the other difficulty (only for me apparently), is that to eat you can only use your right hand (sorry, dad, and all the other south paws out there). it's known as the "clean hand," or as i sometimes so delicately refer to it: "the non-poo hand (but that's a whole other letter of its own)."

so, i'm getting better at this, but i still tend to chase my chiapati around my plate in an attempt to tear off a piece, as my plate spins around, both plate and chiapati working in utter defiance of my hunger, but to the great entertainment of my boy the surgeon across the table. "oh, if i had a fork right now, lil' chiapati, you'd be such toast!" the nice guys at my regular eating establishment have started giving me a spoon. does anybody know how to say, "you're enabling me" in Hindi? i do what i can without it, but sometimes, just sometimes....

so, as much as i wash my hands, that slight yellow curry stain remains (and every once in awhile those little digits get that smell that they get when you've been gorging at the State Fair all day (half of you just smelled your fingers, didn't you?!)). but, that's all right, because that's part of the contract, right? embracing other cultures with both hands...clean hand and poo hand. when in india....

well, that's my 20 rupees worth (plus, all this food talk has got me hungry).

stay tuned next week when we disect the great Indian tradition of Christmas, featuring the St. Francis children's choir of Cochin singing Feliz Navidad.

May your holday season be just as surreal as mine.

Merry Hannaramawanzamas (i think i covered most of my p.c. bases there).

i love and miss you all and will see you soon.


p.s. somebody save me some egg nog...i've got a hankerin', that chai just won't fill.
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